Pelican crossing for school zone
Local authorities hope a new pedestrian crossing in the Dampier Highway school zone adjacent to Karratha Senior High School will improve safety for students and drivers.
A pelican crossing will replace the wigwag warning lights within the school zone at the intersection of Dampier Highway and Broadhurst Road, designed to help students cross the highway during school hours.
City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said he hoped the new crossing, which has been the result of a successful application for funding from the Main Roads Black Spot program, would reduce the confusion that had existed around the wigwag crossing lights for some time.
“The current wigwag lights have proven to be confusing for both pedestrians and drivers,” he said.
“The new pelican crossing lights will be a pedestrian-controlled crossing, meaning that the pedestrian presses a button to stop the traffic ... so as to be able to safely cross the road.”
“This will be much clearer and should ensure that students can cross the road safely.” The pelican crossing is due to be installed in December, in time for the 2017 school year.
Wigwag lights on the highway precede the school zone’s establishment on the otherwise 70km/h main road, which was introduced in February this year after years of safety concerns for students crossing to get to the Karratha Senior High School campus.
A Main Roads spokesman said the department had received positive feedback about the Dampier Highway school zone and boosted signage for drivers since it was introduced.
However, he said wigwag crossings were only effective along with a crossing warden to control traffic, a position which had not been able to be filled in Karratha.
The spokesman said Karratha road users did not know what to do at the current wigwag crossing.
“A wigwag crossing is purely a warning device and due to it being the first one in the area, road users have had some confusion,” he said.
“This will be the first regional pedestrian (pelican) crossing that will have a countdown timer to assist pedestrians.
“It’s a formal control device so when a pedestrian presses the button the traffic will be stopped on a red signal, which eliminates the need for a crossing attendant.”
The spokesman said the area did not technically need to be a school zone but it was a measure Main Roads had implemented to slow down vehicles.
He said signage in the area was already “excessive” and adding more would be a visual distraction for drivers.
“Additional signage will not change driver behaviour,” he said.
“Enforcement by police and a change in community behaviour will be needed to address these concerns.”